The rest of your life is a long time and whether you know it or not it’s being shaped right now. You can choose to blame your circumstances on fate or bad luck or bad choices or you can fight back. Things aren’t always going to be fair in the real world, that’s just the way it is but for the most part you get what you give. Let me ask you all a question. What’s worse not getting everything you wished for or getting it but finding out it’s not enough? The rest of your life is being shaped right now with the dreams you chase, the choices you make and the person you decide to be. The rest of your life is a long time and the rest of your life starts right now.
May 2nd 1536 - Accused of committing adultery with at least three different men, Anne Boleyn was arrested, and thus imprisoned in the Tower of London. Sir Henry Norris and Lord Rochford were also imprisoned to join Mark Smeaton.
May 3rd 1536 - Upon news of the Queen’s arrest, Archbishop Cranmer wrote to Thomas Cromwell, stating: “My mind is clean amazed, for I never had better opinion in woman, than I had in her”. Anne Boleyn unknowingly implicates Sir Francis Weston.
May 4th 1536 - Sir Francis Weston and Sir William Brereton join Lord Rochford, Sir Henry Norris and Mark Smeaton in the Tower. Lady Jane Rochford sent her husband, George Boleyn, a letter of comfort, saying she would petition to the King for him.
May 6th 1536 - Anne Boleyn is believed to have written a letter to her husband, stating her innocence and asking for a lawful trial. She also begged the King to spare the lives of the five men, and not to withdraw his love for their infant daughter.
May 12th 1536 - Sir Henry Norris, Sir Francis Weston, Sir William Brereton and Mark Smeaton were tried for high treason, and without valid proof or confession, were all found guilty, and thus sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quarter at Tyburn.
May 15th 1536 - Anne Boleyn was tried before a jury of peers, and despite pleading innocent, was sentenced to be burned or beheaded at the King’s pleasure. George Boleyn was also found guilty, and sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered.
May 16th 1536 - Archbishop Cranmer visited Anne Boleyn to hear her confession, and to obtain her consent to dissolve her marriage and thus bastardise her daughter. Anne believed that she would be spared death, and instead be sent to a nunnery.
May 17th 1536 - The sentences of the five men were commuted, and Anne Boleyn is believed to have watched as her brother and friends were beheaded on Tower Hill. Her marriage to the King was declared null and void, and her daughter a bastard.
May 18th 1536 - Anne Boleyn heard mass and prepared for her impending execution, only for it to be twice postponed. Sir William Kingston tried to comfort her, to which she replied: “I heard say the executioner was very good, and I have a little neck”.
May 19th 1536 - Shortly after 8am, Anne Boleyn ascended the scaffold, and after delivering a speech that praised the King in a last attempt to protect her daughter, the Queen was blindfolded, and beheaded with the single stroke of a French sword.
The following is an excerpt from a novel about Anne Boleyn that I am currently working on. I would love feedback on what you think about it!
“The Wheel of Fortune: A Novel of Anne Boleyn”
By Kate J.
May 17th, 1536
The moment that the faint sound of the crowd cheering disturbs my dealthy silent chambers, I know that all is lost. My beloved brother, George, is now dead, and in a few brief moments, some of my dearest friends will follow him to an early and undeserved grave. Up until this moment, I had been staring at the doors of my apartments, hoping…no, praying, that my Henry, my King and husband, would come bursting through the doors, take me into his arms and say, “How now, sweetheart. Do not fret, all is well. I was merely testing you and our friends, and you have all passed! The Seymour wench means nothing to me, it is you that I love and that I will always love.” Or perhaps he would tell me that it was all some elaborate prank, and that it was over and he sure fooled me, eh? And perhaps I would have forgiven him; anything to save my brother and our friends, and to see my darling Elizabeth again. No, no. I mustn’t think of her. I need to stay strong now, and if I think of her, I won’t be able to stay strong.
But alas, the King doesn’t come bursting in through my chamber doors, and I hear the sounds of more faint cheers as another one of my friends is taken from this world far too soon. Soon it will be my turn. I think a part of me always knew this day would come. There is a prophecy: “A queen of England shall be burnt.” And ever since hearing those words, even as a child, I somehow felt that they were inextricably linked to me. I do not know yet if I shall be burnt at the stake or beheaded, but I do know now that I will die.
Another faint cheer as Sir William Brereton loses his head. I fear I’m going to be sick. These men do not deserve this fate. And for once, even the ladies that have been attending to me for the past sixteen days do not try and torment me. They leave me be, and as I glance at each one of them, I can see that even they are disturbed by what has come to pass. And strangely, I find myself feeling a bit more kindly towards them, despite the abuses I have suffered at their hands.
I need air, I can’t breathe, my chest feels like it is in a vice. I stand up and start pacing, gasping for air. Is this really happening or is it simply a bad dream? I’ve had horrible nightmares ever since I attained that which I so desired…or should I say, that which my family so desired: becoming Queen of England. Yes, that must be it, this is a nightmare, surely this can’t really be happening. And then I hear another cheer, and I know that it is really happening, that this is no nightmare. Oh God, there’s no air in here, why is there no air?
I can feel the eyes of my ladies on my back, but I’m too busy trying to breathe to pay them any heed. One more person is left to die. Mark Smeaton. He was the only one that maintained his false confession that he had sexual relations with me, but I don’t hate him for it, not now. I listen for the sound of the crowd, and to my surprise, the roar that I hear sounds angry. It takes me a moment to comprehend why. The King, in his mercy, commuted Mark’s sentence from being hung, disemboweled, beheaded, and quartered to simple beheading, and it seems the crowd was looking forward to the more gruesome spectacle. I shudder at the thought, sickened that they could be so bloodthirsty. But when another cheer goes up, signaling Mark’s end, it appears they were satisfied with his sentence anyway.
I need to lie down. I can’t bear this pain, this loss. My whole world is crumbling and I need the oblivion of sleep. Perhaps I will dream of better times, or perhaps I will not dream at all. I pray God I will not dream of what just happened. I ask Lady Kingston to have her husband, Sir William Kingston, fetch me a strong sleeping draught. She nods and leaves to relay my request. I notice that she avoids looking into my face the entire time. When Master Kingston brings it in, I thank him, and down it, not even minding the bitter taste. As I lie back on my bed, everything becomes hazy and I begin to feel a delicious warmth and weightlessness descend upon my body. I welcome it with open arms and drift off into oblivion.
There is some dispute over the year in which Anne was born – most likely between 1501 and 1507. Anne’s father was the courtier and diplomat, Sir Thomas Boleyn and her mother, Elizabeth, was the daughter of the Duke of Norfolk.
Anne spent some of her childhood and teenage years in Europe she was a lady-in-waiting to Archduchess Margaret in the Netherlands. In 1514, Anne’s father arranged for her to be a lady-in-waiting at the French court to Queen Mary, King Henry VIII’s younger sister. She later served Queen Claude of France for almost seven years.
On her return to England in 1522, Anne was appointed as lady-in-waiting to Henry VIII’s wife Catherine of Aragon. Anne’s striking looks and sophisticated manners earned her many admirers at court and by 1523 she was betrothed to Lord Henry Percy. However this relationship was cut short by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey.
Before pursuing Anne, Henry VIII had already had an affair with her sister, Mary. Henry showered Anne and her family with titles and gifts. Anne’s ambitious father was created Earl of Wiltshire and her brother, Lord George Rochford, was appointed to the Royal Privy Chamber.
Henry VIII had grown tired of his wife, as she had not produced a male heir. He appealed to Pope Clement VII for an annulment to his marriage so that he could marry Anne. The Pope refused to annul the marriage as he was afraid to go against the will of Catherine’s nephew Charles V, The Holy Roman Emperor.
Although she resisted Henry VIII’s advances, by 1533 Anne was pregnant with her first child. Henry was forced into action. In January 1533 Henry VIII and Anne were married in a secret ceremony and Henry broke with the Catholic Church. He passed the Act of Supremacy, declaring that he was the head of the English church. In June 1533 Anne was crowned Queen of England in a lavish ceremony at Westminster Abbey.
Henry and Anne’s daughter Elizabeth (the future Queen Elizabeth I) was born in September 1533. Two more pregnancies ended in miscarriage, in the summer of 1534 and in January 1536. When Henry discovered the second baby had been a boy, he became convinced the marriage was cursed. Henry was still desperate for a male heir and he blamed Anne for this misfortune, so he looked for a way to end his marriage.
In April 1536, Sir Francis Weston, William Brereton, Mark Smeaton, Sir Henry Norris and Anne’s brother Lord Rochford were arrested on suspicion of having had relations with the Queen.
Anne was investigated by a secret commission which included her father, her uncle the Duke of Norfolk and Thomas Cromwell. On 2 May 1536 Anne was arrested on charges of adultery with five men including her own brother, Lord George Rochford. At the trial, presided over by the Duke of Norfolk, Anne was accused of adultery and witchcraft. She was convicted and imprisoned in the Tower of London.
On 19th May Anne was led from her quarters to Tower Green where, spared the axe, she was granted the ‘mercy’ of beheading by a French swordsman. Anne was the first English queen to be publicly executed. Rather than deny her guilt, she used her final moments to deliver a speech praising King Henry VIII, stating that, “a more merciful prince was there never: and to me he was ever a good, a gentle and sovereign lord.”